Nearly every weekday, a man in tattered clothes stands at the corner of Randolph and Clark in downtown Chicago during the lunch hour, holding up a sign that says "I'm just hungry."
He never says a word, not even last Tuesday when a mouthy jerk exiting the Daley Center courthouse last Tuesday called to him: "Me too! That's why I'm going to go home and have lunch. See ya."
There are lots of words to loosely diagnose the many problems of the "Me too" jerk, but it's not fit for print in a family newspaper blog. But the man with the sign is curiously silent - not consumed and consuming like the worker bees racing around him during a typical Loop noon hour, heading for food courts and griping about their bosses.
I've never seen him ask for a nickel, and I doubt he begged that middle-aged puffy guy to humiliate him on that crowded downtown street corner. There was a time, dating back to the 1700s and 1800s, when the hungry would go door to door in Great Britain seeking out a bite -- a soul cake -- from their neighbors in exchange for the beggar offering a prayer for the dead of their house. It was a precursor to today's Halloween, according to British lore.
It is a reminder to me that I have many fortunes - family, a home, a job and work I love. On Monday, I'll offer him something more than a smile, and definitely something more than soul cake, since I haven't found a recipe. And I'll pray for that soul-less jerk who thinks it's fun to pick on people. He's clearly hungering for something.